At the Edge, Where Picoamps Matter

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



As we come to the end of what has been an exciting and exhausting year, I’m almost ready to set out for Munich and electronica. I wrote a bit about what I expect it to be like last month, so I’m not going into too much more detail, but I expect that there will be many major announcements from power manufacturers. It’s a strange situation to be in, as everyone wants a focal point on their stands to draw visitors in, but at the same time, they take the risk of being lost in the noise. And the almost 3,000 exhibitors in the venue’s 16 halls are sure to create a lot of noise.

As you would expect, the PSD team will be there in full force to bring you as much as we can from the venue, including video interviews, new product announcements, and industry news. If you are going to be there and you have a juicy announcement that you’d like us to cover, please get in touch and one of us will try get to your stand.

It’s no real surprise that the Internet of Things is one of the most covered topics in the electronics industry, and it will be heavily in focus in Munich at the electronica exhibition. When the main focus of discussion will be on sensors, processing, AI algorithms and edge devices, it sometimes seems that power is taking a back seat. In reality, like almost every other area of electronics, power is essential to the success of IoT products.

In fact, for many edge devices that are situated remotely, clever power design is potentially the single most important factor in the device’s success. Every component in the circuit has to operate at maximum efficiency. The three integral operational parts of the circuit, the sensor, processing element and the wireless transmitter have been designed to operate using the minimum amount of energy possible. Even then, the circuit may only operate a fraction of a second every hour to take a reading and transmit results back to the node to conserve power. Then there is the power circuit itself, which has to seamlessly transfer the power from the battery to the components. Every joule wasted takes time off the overall battery life. Even wasted picooamps can add up over the years that these circuits are expected to operate in the field – sometimes up to ten years on a single, small battery. It’s hard to think of another area where those sort of energy amounts are so vital.

In the November issue, we feature several articles on the subject, among them S3 Semiconductor asks if custom ICs are the solution to get the best balance of power saving and performance, and Kemet provides its take on why small supercapacitors may offer an alternative solution for edge devices. I hope you enjoy!


Best Regards

Ally Winning

European Editor, PSD